Now that we're done with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we can get down to the real Christmas shopping, and for me that means buying toys.
For some reason, the kids haven't even made their wish lists yet. Last year was a different story with both doing multiple page lists, complete with illustrations and product info, as soon as the Toys R Us catalog came in the newspaper. Maybe they're waiting to tell the man in red personally so that there's no doubt about what they want.
Every year, someone (marketing reps I'd guess) decides what the hot new toys are that the kids must have under the tree on Christmas morning or their childhoods will be ruined forever. We parents want to make our kids happy, so we too often fall for this load of crap.
Does anyone remember the movie "Jingle All the Way," in which Arnold Schwarzenegger ran all over town trying to find a Turbo Man action figure for his son? It was a pretty terrible movie, but the premise wasn't far from the truth.
When I first moved to California in the early 1980s, I worked at a Target store in Orange County as the store operator. In those days, you actually talked to a live person when you called the store and that person was me, Monday through Friday, all day long. I don't know if it was a kind of karmic payback for some horrendous thing that I'd done in another life, but it was my luck to answer the phone the year the Cabbage Patch Kids were the hot toy.
If 1983 is a bit of a blur for you, let me refresh your memory of the Cabbage Patch Kids. They were ugly, squishy cloth dolls that were "delivered," not manufactured, and "adopted," not purchased. Each doll had a unique face and name.
Time magazine wrote a three-page article on Dec.12, 1983, about the fad in which they noted several stores that had had near riots with thousands of people all clamoring for the dolls and many coming away with only broken bones and other injuries.
While we never had those extreme situations at our store, people used to wait in the parking lot every morning and watch for the semi-trucks bringing goods and then they'd all rush to the stock room doors hoping that we received some of the precious dolls.
The switchboard was constantly lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree and I answered thousands of phone calls that season with the same reply: "There are no Cabbage Patch Kids in stock and we don't know when we will get more."
I had people swear at me, some accused the employees of keeping them all for themselves (we didn't), and others offered me bribes if I could get them one (I couldn't). Normally I enjoy the holidays, but that year, New Year's Day could not come soon enough.
So what are the hot must-have toys this year? I don't really care and, thankfully, our kids don't either. I'm sure that Santa will be generous once again and they'll love whatever he buys, I mean, brings.
SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and a member of the Family Advisory Council for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She may be reached at email@example.com.Copyright © 2015, CT Now